Lots of people see themselves as supporters and allies of the LGBTQ+ community, myself included. However, it’s difficult to understand the history and struggle unless you’ve really been there and lived it. FX’s Pose, now on Netflix, is an incredible combination of education and entertainment ready to demystify many sensitive topics such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, transitioning as a trans individual, homelessness, and familial relationships between queer individuals and their often-bigoted families.
The show takes place in the 80s in New York, a hub for the neglected and unwanted of the time. The cast includes the largest ensemble of trans actors ever assembled which lends a heavy dose of reality to the show. These aren’t just actors- many of them have lived the experiences they are portraying. There is plenty of reality and hard hits as you see them struggle and hurt for the various hardships endured, but there are so many moments of victory and success that you mostly aren’t met feeling run-down and sad at the end of an episode.
Given the time period, there are a great many horrible situations that you hope wouldn’t be faced today. However, the reality is that the queer community still faces ostracization and disdain in addition to the culture of discrimination still active across our country and world. Indeed, even among the community some have more social status than others. While gay representation has begun to increase, the trans black women at the heart of the show are a rarity to see at all in popular media, let alone at the center of a show.
This show isn’t just a lecture. It is beautifully shot, poignant, and emotional, no matter your ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, relationship to your family…. you don’t have to BE the characters to relate to them. I’ve certainly fallen into several ruts of wanting to watch things I could directly see myself taking part in as a form of escapism or just to take out the need for any kind of concentration on what I’m seeing. Pose made me pay attention, and more than that, it made me WANT to pay attention.
I marathoned the show in two days, but fortunately for me (and any of you I may convince to watch…) the new season starts June 9. Truly, it’s a unique show and so well worth your time, if only to understand a little bit of the history of a community too often erased.